These dementia care tips were things we didn’t think about, at least not at first. Once we tried them and saw how they made a difference, they suddenly seemed so obvious. But, of course, they weren’t obvious at all when we started. Caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia requires a new way of thinking about things.
Dementia caregivers know that little things can make a big difference, but sometimes little things get overlooked. So, here’s our list of not-so-obvious dementia care tips.
Tip #1: Some Care Tips Won’t Work for You
Caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is challenging physically, emotionally, and mentally. It would be so much easier if a doctor or a guidebook could tell you exactly what to do in every situation, but that just isn’t possible.
Every person is different. What works for someone else may or may not work for you.
Our advice? Find out what other people are doing, and try those things. If they don’t work today, they might work tomorrow. If they don’t work at all, try something else. Yes, read our care tips, talk with other caregivers about what they are doing, and find dementia care tips from other sources, but know that you will need to discover the best form of care for you and your loved one.
Become a student, taking note of your loved one’s reactions. Your own experience with your loved one will be your best teacher.
Tip #2: Approach From the Front
Get in the habit of always approaching your loved one from the front. Don’t sneak up from behind or try surprise someone who is living with dementia. You’ll probably only startle or scare them.
Let them see you coming. Sometimes that means “taking the long way around.” If you can’t approach straight on, at least try to ease in from the side.
Tip #3: Give It Time
Practice patience. Get in the habit of pausing after you say or do something. It’s natural to expect an immediate response, but your loved one may no longer be able to react quickly.
When talking with someone living with dementia, allow time for the person to reply. Present them with the gift of a comfortable length of time in which to formulate a response. Look at them. Wait for them. Even if you don’t ultimately get a response, you will still be sharing that you are interested, that you care.
Tip #4: Learn Their Favorite Song
Find your loved one’s favorite singers and songs. If they have an old album collection, start there. If you need suggestions for older songs, check out these playlists from Golden Carers or our very own online library of singalong songs. Play different songs for them and see how they react.
Music can help people living with dementia better connect with memories and emotions. Singing together is a wonderful way to connect with another person. Music may even work like Medicine for the Brain.
Tip #5: Involve Younger Children
Alzheimer’s and dementia may seem confusing or even frightening, but most children are able to see past the disease. Older people are often comforted by the presence of children. Sometimes children seem to intuitively relate easily to a grandparent living with dementia.
Plan a craft project appropriate for children and the person living with dementia. Sing songs together. Look through photo albums. Read stories together. Create moments of connection between generations.
What Not-So-Obvious Dementia Care Tip Have You Learned?
Let us know your favorite dementia care tip. Have you learned something during your journey as a caregiver, something that didn’t seem so obvious at first? Please share through our Contact Us page or in the comments below.